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The Ninja Reader

High-brow or downright pretentious, good PNR or sparkly vampires, I don't care about the premise so long as it entertains me.

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Bullying: The Social Destruction of Self
Laura Martocci
Red Glove  - Holly Black Cross-posted with my tumblr. I never thought I would give a Curse Workers book a rating lower than four stars. Guess you just live and learn.But the really funny thing is, there isn't anything wrong with the book itself. Cassel is starting his senior year and dealing with the fallout from the previous books' events: the discovery of his powers, the deal with Zacharov, and, of course, the fact that his mother worked on Lila, the girl he was pining for, and forced her to love him. Meanwhile, his brother is found dead, his mother is playing it fast and loose, and he's being pressured both by the FBI and Zacharov to pick a side. The plot here is similar to White Cat: it runs at a breakneck pace, it's full of little twists and turns and cons, and the worldbuilding aspect is really wonderful. The problem is that it's also stretched very thin, so far as to the extent that some of the subplots are undevelopped or have an unsatisfactory conclusion. We have the mystery of the death of Cassel's brother, the FBI and Zacharov pressuing Cassel in their own ways, Cassel coming to terms of what he did in the past, the political struggle for worker rights, Lila struggling with the curse and Cassel flip-flopping between doing the right thing and the thing he wants, the relationship between Sam and Daneca, the local jerk and Cassel's ex Audrey, the future of the HEX club and the firing of the teacher who supported them, Cassel's other brother Barron and their mother. That's ten different subplots (that I can remember), each of which is tied in somehow in the end. However, Black is so focused on giving a resolution to all (or most) of these things, that she didn't give us a main plot. Red Glove is basically all these themes, with Cassel in the middle, which I wouldn't have minded, had one of these themes been the main one. In fact, the storyline that jumpstarts the plot, the one of the murderer with red gloves, isn't revealed until the last chapter, and it features a character whose name I couldn't remember until Cassel gave the clarification. That's the main problem, but hardly the only one. I think I can easily spend the rest of this review talking about the characters, and especially Lila and what Black does with her here. Lila Zacharov, who was a no-nonsense badass in the previous book, was reduced to a sniveling, groveling girl, one who did all kinds of stupid stuff and completely sacrificed her dignity for the sake of her man. And while I can attribute some of that to the spell I still think it was not a good departure from her character. Lila went through a lot in the previous book - it was deep emotional and psychological trauma that can't be shrugged off easily, nor erased. Furthermore, even if I disregard completely the spell and accept that it turns her into a sappy fool , her role in this book just didn't work. Lila, who played the main part in "White Cat" along with Cassel, and was shown to be on par, and even superior, intellectually, plays almost no role to the plot in this book. And yeah, part of the reason why is because there is no central plot, but she could have easily been Cassel's accomplice. But she isn't. Instead, his main sidekicks are Sam and Daneca, and Lila is left to take on the role of a victimized love interest. I really hope this doesn't continue in "Black Heart".Again, it's not a bad book. I actually enjoyed it while I read it, but when I reflect on the events, I found them to be unsatisfactory. It's like the opposite of the Second Book Slump, where so much stuff happens you don't know top from bottom. Black didn't need all of those subplots: she could have easily focused on three or four, while maintaining the same themes of the previous book - those of family, and a young man trying to protect the ones he loves in a world that is not kind to his particular abilities, without succumbing to darkness. I still will be reading "Black Heart", but as far as sequels go, "Red Glove" was lacking. Not too much, but enough.